The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 2, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: TCU new kid but from same neighborhood

MORGANTOWN — They are the new kids on the block, and like so many kids who move into a new neighborhood, they have run into the bullies.

A year and a half ago, West Virginia University and TCU were finishing up being bullies of their own, establishing a national name and respect, for in the end no one looks at what conference you play in, only whether you are a winner or a loser.

Ask anyone who has the better program, Indiana of the Big 10 or Louisville of whatever the hell that conference is being called these days now that everyone who was anyone has spread themselves across the football landscape.

I suspect you won’t get many votes for the Big 10 team.

WVU, of course, came into the Big 12 brash and bold, winning five in a row and looking as if it was going make the likes of Texas and Oklahoma and their big reps and bigger budgets eat dirt, but by the time the season ended WVU would find itself nothing more than a 7-6 team with a bowl loss to – of all teams – Syracuse.

TCU, like WVU, won seven games, but somehow came out of it with a lot more respect than did the Mountaineers, who sent the heart and, more important, the soul of that 7-6 team off to the NFL and had a bare cupboard prepared to replace them.

You almost could feel those teams out of the Southwest celebrating each WVU defeat through the second half of last season and the first eight games this year, each one seemingly saying “No outsider’s coming in here and showing us up.”

It was different with TCU, for while is a teaching and research institution associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and with an enrollment of about 8,200, it was one from the same neighborhood.

Being located in Fort Worth, most of its players and fans could agree on rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and didn’t know a whole lot about the Pittsburgh Steelers, like us West Virginians do, or of the Miami Dolphins, in whose territory a good many WVU stars through all the ages had grown up.

Unlike West Virginia, TCU brought with it the prestige of having won a couple of national championships, and the fact they were won nearly 70 years ago dimmed the memory of them but not the glory.

Their early heroes were as western as Hopalong Cassidy or Roy Rogers, beginning with the Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, who must have been a pretty good passer to have acquired the nickname of “Slingin’ Sammy Baugh,” but he was so much more than that.

He came out of an era where players played both ways and was a pretty good defensive back and a great punter, retiring with the best average ever recorded in the NFL at 45.1 yards per punt.

Baugh was so “Texas” that in 1941 he starred in a 12-week serial as “Texas Ranger Tom King,” the episodes running in theaters with Saturday matinees. His co-star was Duncan Renaldo, who went on to television fame a decade and half later as the Cisco Kid.

And Baugh must have been pretty good as an actor, for Robert Duvall patterned his role of Gus McCrae in the television series “Lonesome Dove,” particularly his arm movements, after visiting Baugh at his Texas home in 1988.

The glory days of TCU live on today through the award given the top college quarterback, that being called the Davey O’Brien Award, and when you look at what he did going from Baugh’s backup to a national championship and TCU’s only Heisman Trophy winner you understand why.

O’Brien did everything for that team, setting the NCAA record for most combined passes and rushes in a season while being named to 13 All-America teams.

O’Brien was from Dallas, Baugh from Texas … and all of that gave TCU instant membership into the club, while WVU was an outsider, having little in common with Texas or Oklahoma.

This is not to take anything away from the rich football history West Virginia has compiled. It’s just that it did it without a drawl, playing Pitt and Penn State and Maryland and Syracuse and Virginia Tech … good teams, proud teams, but teams that have nothing to do with the land that makes up the Big 12.

West Virginia is coal country, Texas and Oklahoma oil country, and that just doesn’t give much to bring your cultures together.

Now you have the two schools going against each other with their seasons very much at stake, the winner taking a big step toward qualifying for a bowl and the loser putting itself back there with Iowa State and Kansas among the have-nots the Big 12.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
WVU Sports
  • WVU takes first step Thursday

    Perhaps the most used – and least factual – cliché in sports is as follows:
    “There’s no tomorrow.”
     

    July 30, 2014

  • Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?

    The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
     

    July 30, 2014

  • smallwood-wendell(1)-2.jpg Charges against Smallwood dropped

     West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.
    It took him only three words to say what was on his mind: “God is Good.” Smallwood is now free to return to West Virginia and rejoin his Mountaineer teammates when they open camp for the 2014 season Thursday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Charges against Smallwood dropped

    West Virginia University running back Wendell Smallwood took to Twitter mid-afternoon Tuesday to express his feelings after charges of witness intimidation against him were dropped by the state of Delaware.

    July 29, 2014

  • Were Bowlsby’s fears about college athletics’ future justified?

    I have never met or even talked to Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.
    But I did read a lengthy story on his 45-minute address to reporters last week on Media Day in Dallas, Texas. Among other things, Bowlsby forecast a startling change threatening the existence of intercollegiate athletics as we have known for these many, many years.

    July 28, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides plenty of optimism

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
    This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.

    July 27, 2014

  • Seider's brother commits to WVU

    West Virginia University’s football team has received a commitment from one of its own.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 provides much optimism heading into 2014 season

    This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia University opening its preseason practices on Thursday.

    July 26, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU needs White to follow in former receivers’ footsteps

    A year ago Clint Trickett took a lot of grief as the once potent West Virginia offense came unraveled, but there is more that than meets the eye.
    The criticism was not unfounded, of course, although behind each incomplete pass there was the pain Trickett was suffering through to throw it, his rotator cuff in need of surgery.

    July 26, 2014

  • Forsey posts Top 10 finish at World Championships

    Freshman Jillian Forsey of the West Virginia University cross country team finished ninth at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
    Forsey, a native of Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, was representing Team Canada. She was the first Canadian to cross the finish line in the women’s 5,000-meter run, finishing in ninth place overall in 16:02.55.

    July 26, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos